Friday 28th February

How to pair chocolate and fruit

Love chocolate? Love fruit? Who doesn’t?
Combining these treats creates a match made in heaven. Here’s how to pair chocolate and fruit.

Wondering how to pair chocolate with fruit?

When it comes to dessert, it is so hard to choose between fruit and chocolate. Why not combine the two?

Chocolate and fruit are so easily paired in a wonderful variety of flavour combinations. Before we dive into the many options, let’s learn a little about the history of everybody’s favourite treat: chocolate!

The history of chocolate

Technically speaking, chocolate comes from a fruit tree. Its main ‘ingredient’ is the seed of the cacao tree.

The ancient Aztecs of Southern Mexico were first to discover the wonders of the cacao seed. Originally venerated as a gift from the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, cacao seeds were brewed into a bitter drink. Cacao beans were so valuable to early Mesoamericans that they were used as currency. Those of us who use it to bargain with our children understand the effectiveness of this approach.

When Europeans took the seeds back to the old world, some genius added sugar. Chocolate, as we know it, was born.

To this day, many of us regard the substance as a gift from God! It is revered and celebrated around the world. Moving from Central America, the majority of cacao now grows in West Africa.

There are three main kinds of chocolate; milk, dark, and white. Rich and creamy milk chocolate is made by adding milk powder or condensed milk to a mixture of cacao, fat, and sugar. Adding milk lessens the bitterness of the cacao seeds and creates a creamier texture.

Box of chocolates

Dark chocolate forgoes the addition of milk powder and is, some might say, a truer form of chocolate. The higher the levels of cacao solids, the more bitter the dark chocolate.

White chocolate doesn’t use cacao solids at all. Instead, it uses cocoa butter. Because of this, many countries and die-hard chocoholics don’t consider white chocolate to be true chocolate. White chocolate has a similar texture to milk chocolate but has a sweeter, less subtle taste.

Of course, chocolate is delicious on its own but in combination with other flavours, it can be even better. Think chocolate orange, chocolate and strawberries, chocolate covered blueberries… the list goes on.

Can chocolate plus fruit actually be healthy for you?

Fruit, with so many varieties, flavours, textures and sizes has always been a valued treat. ‘Nature’s candy’ has nutritional value and is packed with vitamins and fibre. While it contains sugar, fruit is not considered as sinful as chocolate. It is recommended you have two pieces per day as part of a healthy diet.

But does pairing fruit with chocolate negate all the goodness? As it happens, not entirely.

Chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate has a number of nutritional benefits of its own. The product contains a number of minerals, including manganese, magnesium, zinc and potassium, all of which are vital to the human body. Studies also show chocolate can help to increase blood flow by releasing valuable nitric oxide into the system.

Chocolate has also been found to help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants. The increase in blood flow along with the low levels of caffeine in chocolate can also help cognitive function.

The substance even helps to protect your skin from the sun. This doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen, but there is growing evidence that chocolate can help increase skin density and therefore filter out some harmful UV rays.

This means chocolate, when paired with fresh fruit can pass as a healthy treat— in moderation of course.

Chocolate dipped fruit is the ideal way to serve this combination. This treat is fast and easy to prepare.

Which fruits to pair with chocolate for dipping

Ready to indulge? Grabbing any fruit and dipping it in chocolate won’t give you the best results.

Watery fruits like watermelon or pineapple won’t make good chocolate and fruit combinations. The watery nature makes it hard for the chocolate to ‘stick’.

So, how to pair chocolate with fruit? Generally, firmer and drier fruits are the best option to pair with chocolate. Berries are perfect due to their small size and low preparation time.

Berries and chocolates

When choosing which fruit to pair with which chocolate, there are a few simple rules to follow. These are some recommendations:

  • Dark Chocolate: Because it is more bitter than milk or white chocolate, dark chocolate is best paired with sweeter fruits. This includes many in the berry family including raspberries and strawberries.
  • Milk Chocolate: Ever the all-rounder, milk chocolate pairs well with the widest variety of fruits. It is great for adding sweetness to a tarter fruit or complimenting sweet fruits.
  • White Chocolate: As the sweetest in the chocolate family, white chocolate pairs best with more tart fruits. Citrus fruits and tart berries like blueberries can benefit from the sweetness hit of white chocolate.

Naturally, these are not hard and fast rules. In fact, many websites will give quite different lists of which chocolate should be paired with which fruit. You are always free to experiment with flavours to find what works for you.

Be outrageous and try some non-traditional combinations. Sliced banana can be dipped in chocolate although you will have to eat your dessert right away. Grapes dipped in chocolate are an unusual combination. Try kiwi fruit or fresh pear for another approach.

Chocolate dipped fruit: Dried vs Fresh

Next, consider whether fresh or dried fruit is the choice for you. When it comes to how to pair chocolate with fruit, both can be delicious but they have different advantages.

Fresh fruit is juicier and more refreshing when paired with chocolate on a hot day, but won’t keep for long. Dried fruits, on the other hand, can last for weeks if stored properly.

It comes down to your purpose. Fresh fruit is a great option for a bbq or a dinner party as a dessert or nibble. Dried fruit makes a great gift, something that can be eaten at leisure. Plan for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day with a box of choc-dipped dried fruit.

Health-wise, there is a pervasive myth that dried fruit is not as good for you as fresh fruit. In fact, dried fruit contains the exact same nutrients as it did when it was fresh. The difference is that dried fruit is smaller and easier to eat by the handful. This means that it is easier to eat a much higher quantity of sugar simply by eating more dried fruit then you would fresh.

Combining your fruit and chocolate

There are still a number of ways how to pair chocolate with fruit. Here are a few of the most popular styles:

  • Dip: Serve warm, liquid chocolate for dipping fresh fruit into. The contrast of the warmth of the chocolate and cool, freshness of the fruit makes this a true delight. This is best done with firmer fruits like strawberries or apple slices. Stir some liquid like milk into your melted chocolate to keep it smooth. Add a splash of brandy or Baileys for an adults-only dessert.
  • Drizzle: Drizzle liquid chocolate over the fruit of your choice and let it set hard. Most fruits can be drizzled over. Just avoid any that is too watery.
  • Coat: Covering the fruit entirely with chocolate. Either a thin coating over fresh fruit or a thick coating such as chocolate sultanas. You may need a few tries to get the chocolate ready to pour but also thick enough to set.

Chocolate coated strawberries in a box

  • Shavings: A more subtle way to add chocolate is to shave or grate solid chocolate over your fruit. This is a great way to spice up a bowl of berries. Add a scoop of ice-cream or yoghurt—yum!
  • Dusting: Even more subtle than shaving. A light dusting can add just a little hint of chocolate to your fruit. This technique is delicious for fruit eaten with the skin on. If you’re using a juicy fruit, test it out first. You don’t want your chocolate dust to become wet and gluggy.

Tips to get the chocolate right:

Melting chocolate is a tricky business. It is very easy to burn the stuff and ruin its taste.

The trick is to work slowly. Avoid the microwave unless you are very careful to use short bursts. Twenty seconds too many in the microwave will send you back to the shop for more supplies.

Melt your chocolate slowly in a saucepan over a very low heat. Be careful: the product turns bad very quickly if you aren’t extremely vigilant.

The most reliable way to melt chocolate is to use the ‘double pan’ technique. To do this, break your chocolate up in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. The heat from the water will slowly and evenly melt the chocolate. You will still need to stir the chocolate regularly but it is almost impossible to burn it with this method. This way, you will be guaranteed smooth, evenly melted chocolate.

If you’re serving fondue, the cheat’s method is to prepare the chocolate on the stovetop first. Go for plain dairy milk or be creative and choose Toblerone for extra texture and flavour. Pour your chocolate into a fondue pot and light a small candle underneath it. Be aware—the pot will get hotter, not cooler. Blow out the candle if you notice the fondue bubbling or becoming sticky.

Get the most out of your fruit

You’ve nearly learned now how to pair chocolate with fruit. When it comes to handling the fruit there are a couple more tricks to getting it right.

  • If you are dealing with a moist fruit or placing chocolate directly onto the flesh, use a paper towel to pat dry the fruit as much as possible before you add the chocolate. This helps keep the chocolate from sliding directly off the fruit onto your preparation surface.
  • A thin coating of lemon juice prevents fruit from browning. Don’t be too liberal with the lemon juice because it can be overpowering.
  • Try to buy your fruit as fresh as possible. Non-stone fruits will ripen if left in a dry cool place. If your apples, for example, feel very ripe, it might be best to refrigerate them as a general rule but it is best to store them out of the fridge. Citrus fruits, grapes and berries, on the other hand, deteriorate very quickly when left out. It is best to keep this fruit in the fridge.

When preparing chocolate-coated dried fruits, add a dusting of cornflour. This helps the chocolate to ‘hold on’ to the fruit.

Some flavour combo/serving ideas

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to experiment.

Fruits coated in Chocolate

There is no need to stick to two ingredients. Chocolate and raspberry, for example, can be given a real kick with a touch of cinnamon. Nuts are also a great addition to fruit and chocolate. They go naturally with dried fruit but some walnuts with apple and milk chocolate can be a real treat.

Chili can be an exciting addition too. Cherries, dark chocolate and chili make for a bold combination. Just make sure to warn your guests!

Honey, sprinkles, mint, ice cream, sea salt, even bacon can all be adventurous additions to your delicacies. Don’t be afraid to explore and get creative.

More chocolate and fruit combinations

Chocolate dipped fruit is just one way to enjoy the sugary treats together. There are plenty of baking options which combine the flavours. Some quick ideas and recipes include:

Plan a death by chocolate afternoon tea and put your cooking skills to the test.

Now that you know how to pair chocolate with fruit, show us some pics of your chocolate/fruit masterpieces! We want to see what you can do and share the joy of chocolate and fruit with our followers and members.

If you're not one for the kitchen, come in to MàZi at Lantern Club and enjoy a slice of chocolate/cherry heaven with our Blackforest cake.